When it comes to safe infant sleep, it’s all about the ABC’s.
It is very common for new parents to invest time and energy into activities to keep their babies safe while awake, like baby proofing, sterilizing bottles and limiting the transmission of viruses and germs within the household. While these practices are very important, the average baby is asleep for far longer than they are awake in their first year of life (up to double the time for newborns!) Thus, it is equally important to invest in babies’ safety while they are asleep.
A: All by Myself
Safe-sleep is critical to reduce the risk of suffocation, strangulation, entrapment, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a safe, firm surface for your baby to sleep on without pillows, bumpers, blankets, or other unnecessary items.
B: Back to Sleep
While the safe-sleep space is important, safe-sleep behavior is even more critical. Place your baby on their back to sleep for the first year and consider room-sharing.
C: In a Crib
Similarly, using a firm mattress covered by a tightly fitted sheet can prevent gaps between the mattress and the sides of the sleep space. This means that infant seats, car seats, strollers, carriers, swings, couches, etc. are not advisable safe-sleep spaces. Babies need a dedicated sleep space that is best suited to their specific needs.
Processing all this information can be overwhelming – the good news is that each baby bassinet, cradle, crib, or play yard sold in North America needs to meet specific guidelines set by the federal and state governments. (Note that baby boxes are not subject to these regulations). To be even more cautious, make sure any product you buy is JPMA Certified – this means it meets all the requirements of the Juvenile Products & Manufacturing Association, which is a voluntary and higher level of certification than the government requires.
Additional nice to haves for your baby’s sleep space are:
- Good ventilation for optimal breathability and visibility. Mesh material is ideal to keep air flowing around your baby and ensure you can see them from all angles.
- Lightweight and portable to move around with you. During a child’s first 4-6 months of life, they should sleep in the same room as their caregiver. You can buy multiple cradles for different spaces in your house or you can get a portable cradle that can easily be moved to wherever you are in your house. Some fresh air in the shade is also nice for parent and baby so a sleep space that allows for indoor/outdoor use (on your back patio for example!) is a bonus.
- Removable, easy to clean components. Babies tend to bring messes wherever they go. Using products that are easy to clean and take care of will make your life much easier. Look for waterproof mattresses, removable fabric sheets, etc. The words removable, washable, wipeable are your best friends!
For more information on safe sleep, including safe sleep guidelines for bed sharing, check out the following resources at the end of the post.
A special thanks to our partners at Barakat Bundle and Giving Cradle, for helping us write this blog. Barakat Bundle is a non-profit, working with local communities to create life-saving care and education bundles for mothers and newborns in need. Their work is funded through donations and the purchase of products at their partner organization, Giving Cradle.
By donating to Barakat Bundle, or by purchasing items from Giving Cradle, a small portion of profits will go back to the DCBD Community Birth Educators Scholarship fund. Just mention DCBD as your referral source in the comments at checkout!
To learn more about Barakat Bundle, Giving Cradle, and the amazing work that they do, please visit the following websites: